The Bush administration’s last Latin America aid request Back in a week
Feb 052008

The 2009 foreign aid request kept me away from the mid-day FARC protest march. However, Paola Castro, a CIP associate working with our Central America Program, was there. Paola, who is Colombian-American, came back with a very positive impression of the event.

As she notes below, the Washington protestors were careful to stay “on message” – condemning the FARC’s horrific abuses without straying off into more politicized territory (such as supporting government officials, directing ire at Venezuela, or intimidating the peaceful opposition). This deserves praise and congratulations.

Paola writes:

As a Colombian-American citizen I feel really glad that the pro-peace and anti-FARC rally went well today in Washington D.C. Around eight hundred people came together in Freedom Plaza [15th and Pennsylvania Avenues], with Colombian flags and a variety of signs. Interestingly enough, none of the signs were pro-government or pro-Uribe as some people predicted.

Civil pressure is exactly what is needed to confront all illegal armed groups that still exist in Colombia in order to force them to stop the atrocities that day by day they continue to perpetrate in the country, affecting all levels of society. I am 25 years old, I was born almost 30 years after the conflict started, and just in the last two years I have seen that for the first time civil society in Colombia is waking up and it is ready to let their voices be heard. I really hope that in the rest of the world where these rallies took place, the spirit has been the same (apolitical, peaceful and well intentioned.)

She took these pictures:

5 Responses to “Yesterday’s march in Washington”

  1. Teo Ballve Says:

    The marchers here in Bogotá were also, to my surprise, mostly on message.

    There were, however, a lot of anti-Chávez expressions: shirts worn by several (mostly younger) marchers had a stencil of national icon Juan Valdez pointing a figure in the distance with “Chávez Go Home” scrawled beneath it. Several chants expressed the same: “No más FARC, no más Chávez” (No more FARC, no more Chávez). And, “FARC afuera, afuera, que Chávez los recibe” (Farc out, out, Chávez welcomes you).

    There was also lots of pro-Uribe stuff, but this wasn’t even close to a majority. The overwhelming majority had signs and chants condemning the FARC and kidnapping. Some called for a “despeje” and a humanitarian accord. There were even some expressions of peace in general, blaming all the armed actors. One huge banner I remember, my favorite, took a swipe at all of them: “No more false positives, no more displacement, no more kidnapping, no more massacres, no more chain saws, no more child soldiers.”

    Despite my skepticism, the demonstrations turned out much better than I expected. As for peaceful and mobilized opposition to the war, let’s hope it doesn’t end there…

  2. jcg Says:

    That’s more or less the same impression I got.

    I didn’t see too many of the anti-Chávez T-shirts during the actual march in Bogotá, though I did see a couple of people selling them early on.

    I didn’t see too much pro-Uribe stuff though, at least not when and where I was marching (I did see a couple of quite pro-Uribe banners on the way back).

    From my personal experience and what I’ve read online, it was all mostly peaceful and tolerant. But there were two minor confrontations in Paris and in New York, the first involving a banner against several forms of violence, and the second involving an exclusively anti-Uribe / anti-state sign (which, IMHO, was by far the most provocative of the two).

  3. Global Voices Online » Colombia: March in Washington, DC Says:

    [...] provides some thoughts from the Center for International Policy Associate Paola Castro, who writes, “As a Colombian-American citizen I feel really glad that the pro-peace and anti-FARC rally wen… Share [...]

  4. o-lu Says:

    Felices vacaciones, Adam.
    Te pido que al regreso le eches una mirada a mi blog, pues la marcha en Paris dio pie para que los medios colombianos desinformaran de una manera aberrante y desde los blogs estamos tratando de hacer algo.

  5. Links 11 feb 2008 « latin american princesa {LAP} Says:

    [...] Yesterday’s march in Washington [CIPCOL]An eye-witness account of the anti-FARC march in my hometown. [...]

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